• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Ice Age

TITLE: Ice Age

YEAR: 2002

GENRE: Family and Animation

Although I must admit that I am getting sick of CGI animation in family films, the quality of writing for the family film genre has definitely improved over the past ten years. In a day and age when Hollywood cranks out sequels because they are running out of fresh ideas, I must admit that many of the stories in animated films that are coming out and creative and well written. Pixar has become master storytellers, and Dreamworks has also brought us some fantastic stories told through CGI animation. The weaving of a quality tale is the saving grace of Ice Age, a decently acted and presented animated film.

In the time of an impending ice age, animals and humans are in a fight to survive against themselves, predators, and the elements. Manfred (played by Ray Romano), a moody wooly mammoth, and Sid (John Leguizamo), a not-so-bright yet ambitious sloth, discover a human baby and have to decide what to do with the little hunter. The decision is made to bring the baby back to his human parents, but the human herd is migrating south and they must move fast to bring the toddler back to his rightful owners. Accompanied by a saber-toothed tiger named Diego (Denis Leary), Manfred and Sid must move against the elements and time to return the child. However, Diego has other plans that are not in the best interest for the baby or his adopted guardians.

The animation is nothing special, but that is forgivable when you have the quality writing that Ice Age presents. The story weaved by writer Michael J. Wilson may sound fairly simple, but it is the layering of ideas and sub-plots that make Ice Age special. A great aspect of the story is the conflict that our heroes feel upon returning the baby to his human parents, as the boy will eventually and grow up to be what Diego calls “a hunter” and future potential problems could be eliminated by practicing social Darwinism and eating the baby. Manfred feels an obligation to return the baby because his parents died while he was young (interestingly enough by the hands of “hunters”) and he does not want the child to grow up an orphan like he did. The conflict between the characters is some great writing, and it makes the fair to midland animation quality an acceptable liability when the storyline is so well done. In addition, the sidebar story of Scrat, a half squirrel and half rat, and his epic journey to find a nut to eat is great slapstick comedy that adds an additional element to Ice Age. The voice acting in Ice Age is also fantastic and our main actors are perfectly cast in their roles.

This was the very first project completely produced by Blue Sky Animation, the same company that did the CGI effects for Alien: Resurrection, Armageddon, and Joe’s Apartment. Although not the sharpest looking project by the high standards set by Pixar and Dreamworks, Ice Age is a quality view because of its well written storyline that can be absorbed on several levels. The little ones will enjoy the fun of Scrat and warmth of the yarn yet older kids and parents can discuss some of the conflict of the characters’ feelings about doing the right thing versus putting themselves in physical jeopardy. The script is quality and makes repeated viewings enjoyable because there is a good amount of material to absorb. Two quality sequels are currently available and a third sequel is currently in production. While waiting for the new film, revisit Ice Age and reacquaint with some old friends.

* * * *

–Mark

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